US Women’s Soccer Team Finally Getting Equal Pay For Consistently Awesome Work
The US Soccer Federation has finally reached the stunning conclusion that women are people just like the menfolk, and the governing body has reached an agreement to pay its women’s teams the same as their male counterparts. This is a first for soccer, which is depressing but, hey, let’s celebrate this long overdue event.
Wednesday’s announcement ends years of contentious negotiations over what should’ve been obvious. Superstars Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe have led this push among women players for equal pay in a field where women kick ass.
\u201cIt\u2019s a really amazing day. I think we're going to look back\u00a0on this day and say this is the\u00a0moment that, you know, U.S.\u00a0Soccer changed for the better.\u201d\u00a0\u2014 @mPinoe on the #USWNT reaching a historic agreement in gender discrimination case. https://gma.abc/2UKP3ch\u00a0pic.twitter.com/k6Wf2rx9qM— Good Morning America (@Good Morning America) 1645533615
The players will split $22 million in damages, and the USSF will use the remaining $2 million to establish a fund to benefit players in their post-soccer careers and support charitable efforts. The settlement deal was contingent on reaching new collective bargaining agreements.
A major sticking point was World Cup prize money, which is based on how far a team advances in the tournament. The distribution of prize money was absurdly unequal. The US women’s soccer team won back-to-back World Cup titles and a record four overall. However, the system was structured so that they’d receive far less FIFA prize money than male players. For instance, US women received a $110,000 bonus for the 2019 World Cup win. US men would’ve received $407,000 had they won in 2018. But they didn’t. They lost.
The unions for both teams have now agreed to pool FIFA’s payments, starting this year with the Men’s World Cup, where we're sure the guys will do their best, and then next year’s Women’s World Cup. The arrangement will continue for the 2026 and 2027 tournaments. Each player regardless of gender will receive matching game appearance fees.
Women’s union projections have compensation for a player who has been under contract to increase 34% from 2018 to this year, from $245,000 to $327,000. The 2023-28 average annual pay would be $450,000 for a player making all rosters, with the possibility of doubling the figure in World Cup years depending on results.
During negotiations, women gave up guaranteed base salaries, but US forward Margaret Purce said that’s no big thang because of how much ass they regularly kick now: "I think we’ve outgrown some of the conditions that may look like we have lost something, but now our (professional) league is actually strong enough where now we don’t need as many guaranteed contracts, you know, we can be on more of a pay-to-play mode.”
This is also cool, equitable, and progressive: women had received childcare benefits for decades, but it’s now extended to male players during national team training camps and matches.
Purce went on to say:
I feel a lot of pride for the girls who are going to see this growing up, and recognize their value rather than having to fight for it. However, my dad always told me that you don’t get rewarded for doing what you’re supposed to do — and paying men and women equally is what you’re supposed to do. So I’m not giving out any gold stars, but I’m grateful for this accomplishment and for all the people who came together to make it so.
The US women’s soccer team doesn’t need gold stars, anyway, when it has four Olympic gold medals. This is yet another outstanding achievement from some incredible women.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."